Monthly Archives: December 2010

Should You Really Forgive Everyone?

This morning, I received a letter from a reader who had experienced both physical and sexual abuse from her parents while growing up. She was eventually placed in foster care, and then as an adult, made every effort toward reconciliation with her parents. She spent time with them and tried to be loving toward them. Rather than the healing she had hoped for, she found that all of her encounters with her parents left her feeling miserable, and so at the suggestion of her therapist, she finally stopped her visits to them. She wrote to me wondering if she needed to be in contact with her parents in order to forgive them, and asked how she could tell if she had, in fact, completely forgiven them.

Her questions really are about just how far forgiveness should extend, and the key, I think, lies in understanding that forgiving does not equal allowing. Many of us think that forgiving means opening all the doors to our hearts and our lives and welcoming the person we were angry at back in.  But in fact, doing that may subject you to dangers that you can’t handle. The danger may be physical, or it may be emotional, or even psychic. To continue the relationship may mean allowing yourself to be undermined and enervated to the point where you have no energy or love to give to anyone else. It would be wonderful to be able to be strong enough to be in the presence of those who have been abusive to you and to remain centered and loving, but you need to be realistic about where you are actually at and what you are capable of—and what is healthy for you.
 Here’s what I wrote to the woman who contacted me:
Forgiving does NOT necessarily mean continuing to have relationship with people who have abused you. To forgive means letting go of anger and blame, accepting that the perpetrator did the absolute best he or she could at that time. It means wishing that person well, inwardly asking the Creator to heal that person. Along with that goes the realization that the person may not heal, may not change, and putting yourself in the path of that person may not be wise.
To forgive also may mean allowing the sadness that comes when you accept fully the reality that deep pain was inflicted on you by that person, and that there’s nothing you can do about it except embrace that truth calmly and in faith. It’s coming to peace with that sadness, and holding it inside of you like a child in need of love. In a funny way, accepting the sadness contains it, so that you can make room inside for other things, including joy. Coming to terms with the sadness and the imperfection of the other allows you to give up the notion that you can somehow “fix” the situation or “fix” the person who hurt you–you can’t. You never will. That is in the hands of the Creator. Understanding this fully is what will give you the strength to both hold that person in love and keep your distance when that is the wise thing to do.
Forgiveness never should involve taking on more pain than you already have experienced. Instead, forgiveness should allow you to feel the beauty and purity of your own heart. Every day, you can inwardly offer the person who hurt you a prayer for healing, and inwardly offer them your blessings and goodwill. At the same time, you can pray for your own illumination, protection, peace, and wisdom. Another thing you can try is to give yourself a TAT session, which is one of the best methods I have found for experiencing wise forgiveness. I have used it both on myself and with many clients successfully. To try it on yourself, go to www.tatlife.com and download the free booklet, or contact me for help.


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Should You Really Forgive Everyone?

This morning, I received a letter from a reader who had experienced both physical and sexual abuse from her parents while growing up. She was eventually placed in foster care, and then as an adult, made every effort toward reconciliation with her parents. She spent time with them and tried to be loving toward them. Rather than the healing she had hoped for, she found that all of her encounters with her parents left her feeling miserable, and so at the suggestion of her therapist, she finally stopped her visits to them. She wrote to me wondering if she needed to be in contact with her parents in order to forgive them, and asked how she could tell if she had, in fact, completely forgiven them.

Her questions really are about just how far forgiveness should extend, and the key, I think, lies in understanding that forgiving does not equal allowing. Many of us think that forgiving means opening all the doors to our hearts and our lives and welcoming the person we were angry at back in.  But in fact, doing that may subject you to dangers that you can’t handle. The danger may be physical, or it may be emotional, or even psychic. To continue the relationship may mean allowing yourself to be undermined and enervated to the point where you have no energy or love to give to anyone else. It would be wonderful to be able to be strong enough to be in the presence of those who have been abusive to you and to remain centered and loving, but you need to be realistic about where you are actually at and what you are capable of—and what is healthy for you.
 Here’s what I wrote to the woman who contacted me:
Forgiving does NOT necessarily mean continuing to have relationship with people who have abused you. To forgive means letting go of anger and blame, accepting that the perpetrator did the absolute best he or she could at that time. It means wishing that person well, inwardly asking the Creator to heal that person. Along with that goes the realization that the person may not heal, may not change, and putting yourself in the path of that person may not be wise.
To forgive also may mean allowing the sadness that comes when you accept fully the reality that deep pain was inflicted on you by that person, and that there’s nothing you can do about it except embrace that truth calmly and in faith. It’s coming to peace with that sadness, and holding it inside of you like a child in need of love. In a funny way, accepting the sadness contains it, so that you can make room inside for other things, including joy. Coming to terms with the sadness and the imperfection of the other allows you to give up the notion that you can somehow “fix” the situation or “fix” the person who hurt you–you can’t. You never will. That is in the hands of the Creator. Understanding this fully is what will give you the strength to both hold that person in love and keep your distance when that is the wise thing to do.
Forgiveness never should involve taking on more pain than you already have experienced. Instead, forgiveness should allow you to feel the beauty and purity of your own heart. Every day, you can inwardly offer the person who hurt you a prayer for healing, and inwardly offer them your blessings and goodwill. At the same time, you can pray for your own illumination, protection, peace, and wisdom. Another thing you can try is to give yourself a TAT session, which is one of the best methods I have found for experiencing wise forgiveness. I have used it both on myself and with many clients successfully. To try it on yourself, go to www.tatlife.com and download the free booklet, or contact me for help.


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Use Music to Heal Yourself: Four Techniques

Since the cradle of civilization, people have used music to heal. In the Bible, David healed Saul through harp music. Krishna healed with his flute, and the ancient Hawaiians used song and chant in healing. The god Apollo oversaw both medicine and music in ancient Greece.
In modern times, though, it comes as a surprise to many just how powerful music and sound is in healing both mental and physical distress. Studies show that music helps stroke victims to heal faster, premature babies to stabilize quicker, and terminally ill patients to experience less pain. Lactating mothers who listen to music produce more milk (one study found a 63% boost from listening to music). Music can help hypertensive patients to reduce blood pressure, Alzheimer’s victims to sleep better, victims of Parkinson’s disease and brain injury to recover cognitive and language function far more completely. Plus, it enhances the immune system and even improves strength and balance.
Years ago, I knew a schizophrenic woman who had been through years of treatment with anti-psychotic medications and psychotherapy, with little improvement. Then she started listening to classical music for several hours each day, and she completely healed herself in that way. Most of us do realize that the right music soothes and heals the soul, but few of us know how to harness the full power of music to heal ourselves or to enhance consciousness.
The cool thing is that you can use music and sound right away to help yourself. If you want to improve your consciousness, try one of these things. For even better results, do one of these things every day for a month:
  1. Play inspiring, uplifting music while you write in your journal. Choosing the right music is essential. Selections like Pachelbel’s Cannon, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, and Handel’s Water Music work particularly well, but if classical music doesn’t appeal to you, try whatever you love, depending on your taste. You’ll find a nice selection of music intentionally written for healing on the internet. You’ll know it’s the right music if you feel palpably better afterwards.
  1. Now, do the same thing, but this time, do it with a partner. While the music plays, relate any thoughts, images, or stories that arise to your partner, while your partner acts as scribe. The power of this exercise may surprise you.
  1. Breathe in healing music for 20 minutes. Remove every other thought and distraction from your field of consciousness. Just listen to the music and breathe it into yourself. If you prefer, you can imagine breathing the music into each of your chakras in turn…first breathe into the center at the base of your spine for a few minutes, then into your sacral area, then your solar plexus, then your heart, your throat, your third eye, right up to the crown of your head.
  1. If you enjoy chanting, buy, download, or rent from your library kirtan or bhajan chants and sing along for half an hour. Or, just tune in on the internet (check here). You’ll undoubtedly experience a lift and clearing.


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